I find the naming of brews to be a fascinating subject, ranging from a simple hop name, something historic (Australia’s Castlemaine XXXX and Wadsworth’s 6X relate to the ten shillings duty payable per alcohol percentage point), through to the frankly silly (check the link here).
Often brew names are an impenetrable mystery.
But I’ve never yet heard of a brew named after a piece of, frankly iconic, graffiti.
If you’ve seen ‘The Full Monty’ movie you will have see Sheffield’s Park Hill flats, a vast hulking modernist block of council flats (public housing) that looms over Sheffield’s city centre.
Well, many years ago, a star crossed lover sprayed the phrase ‘I LOVE YOU WILL U MARRY ME‘ on a concrete foot-bridge in the Park Hill estate.
The name ‘Claire Middleton’ is appended, and urban legends suggest that Claire, who has since died of cancer, never married the love struck graffiti artist. To mark the 50th anniversary of Park Hill flats – now Britain’s largest listed (protected) building – the graffiti was enhanced with a neon installation.
The BBC even ran a radio programme – subject to geographical restrictions you might be able to catch it on iPlayer – here.
Thornbridge’s own tribute to the graffiti was brewed to support an arts project in Park Hill – S1 Artspace and the beer is described as “a light blonde ale matured with a very large amount of strawberries.”
Well, it pours a pale straw colour, with a noisy head that vanishes almost as soon as I finished pouring. The overall effect is like a soft drink, ‘Lucozade’, that I used to be given as a child when I felt poorly. I’m not alone in this, it was a standby ‘medicine’ for most kids in the sixties.
That soft drink effect follows through in the nose, with its hints of strawberry ice cream – no, make that yoghurt, there’s a sharpness in there.
And the flavour is primarily tart, not unbearably or wince inducing tart, and yes there are strawberry overtones, a bit like a trendy fruit flavoured cider. It’s light bodied, and doesn’t leave much impression as it goes down.
Underneath the tart strawberryness (or is that Strawberry tartness?) there isn’t enough beeryness to satisfy.
I’m afraid that, for only about the third or fourth time, I’ve found a Thornbridge brew that doesn’t do it for me. That ‘large amount of strawberries’ was largely sacrificed in vain, they’d have been better served in an ‘Eton Mess’ dessert or a ‘Strawberry Tart’ (sorry).
I think that might be the lowest score I’ve ever given a Thornbridge brew. I poured myself a Jaipur to remind me how good their brews can be.